Lions claw their way to the top of SA pile
Win at Cape Town Stadium was built on crafty attack and courageous defence
They went into the United Rugby Championship (URC) the least fancied of the SA franchises but after five rounds the Lions are the highest ranked after their 37-19 victory over the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
Their poor Currie Cup campaign in which they finished last is now well behind them and the win in Cape Town would have reverberated around the competition.
As much as the Lions ran in four tries in their bonus-point win they also displayed courageous defence, albeit against a Stormers team that was prone to error.
“At the end on our try line, I think that showed the character of the team,” observed Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen. “It showed where we are as a team in terms of culture and the willingness to improve and the willingness to fight.
“I really do feel that we are improving in the majority of areas, but the defence was probably the point of difference,” said Van Rooyen, adding he was proud of his team.
Game of blunder
But it was a match of bumbling and blunder, which often made for a lack of rhythm and flow. Yellow card offences proved disruptive and left both teams scrambling.
“There was poor discipline from both teams,” Stormers coach John Dobson reminded. “I don't think it is great for rugby to have these ill-disciplined games. It had an affect on the second half,” he admitted.
“I think there were quite a few errors, but that was probably through ambitious attack and physicality from both sides,” explained Van Rooyen.
After a prolonged seven-week break it was his team that hit the deck running against a side that rested some of their Springboks. In full appreciation that it was their last game of the year, the Lions went for broke.
“I think we learnt in the last year and a half that anything is possible and if you don’t adapt and if you don’t move onto the next occasion then you are going to get stuck a little bit,” said Van Rooyen.
One last surge
“We gave the guys three weeks off after the tour and then we really had a tough four weeks. It was supposed to be three but last week got cancelled. But the occasion of playing a derby and playing the Stormers in Cape Town assisted us mentally a little bit.
“Also, in terms of the schedule, the next game should be early January, so we knew we could go flat out and I am just fortunate that it went our way,” explained Van Rooyen.
For the Stormers there was much to lament. They made little headway in the primary phases and when they did lengthen their stride they found ways of coming up short.
They squandered several scoring opportunities, which coach John Dobson partly put down to the team's recent inactivity, made worse by last week's postponed match.
“We had 15 entries that got turned over in the 22. It is a staggering statistic. Yes, it was an off day but also a product from not having played. It is not an excuse because it is exactly the same for the Lions.
“I have no doubt we are a better team than we were today,” reassured Dobson.
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